Sunday, March 27, 2016

Art Projects for the UNC SILS Help Desk

In the spring semester I started a new job as an Information Technology Assistant at UNC's School of Library and Information Science (SILS) Help Desk. One of the perks of the job is getting to experiment with new technologies. An Oculus Rift should be arriving at the Help Desk in the next week. Two games are included with our purchase - Lucky's Tale and Eve: Valkyrie. It will be fun to test out these games before setting patrons loose to use the new technology. Beyond unique gaming experiences, virtual reality systems like Oculus Rift have a variety of additional applications. They can also be used to envision space for architectural or engineering uses and for data visualization.

In preparation for the arrival of our Rift, I made a poster in Illustrator for advertisement. Using a unique font from and overlaying texture files made completing the project enjoyable and hopefully the end result is also visually interesting.

In addition to the Oculus Rift, throughout this semester I have had the chance to work with a 3D printer for the first time. The SILS Library has a MakerGear M2 printer. I made my first print, a Minoru Yamasaki-inspired vase of the DeRoy Auditorium, about a month ago.

This object was created from a STL file on Thingiverse using Polylactic acid (PLA) as the filament. While this design is largely decorative, 3D printing can also be used for more functional purposes. At SILS we have used the printer to create cord fasteners and hard drive (HDD) adapters. Beyond my immediate work context, 3D printers have also proved useful in the medical field in creating prosthetics. The Help Desk at SILS recently added a web page to collect printing requests from individuals affiliated with the school.  Printing requests we have received so far include a replica of the Elder Wand from Harry Potter and a small elephant. It will be interesting to see what other print requests come in. Hopefully I will also have the opportunity to try out designing my own STL file from scratch.

Finally, another art-related project I have been working on is creating designs for a USB that is the size of a credit card for SILS. The size of the memory card makes it so that it can easily fit in a wallet and not get lost easily. For the project I needed to include the SILS logo on one side and the school's tag line "Informed Leadership" on the other side. Included below are some of the designs I have come up with so far.

I am looking forward to learning more about 3D printing and the Oculus Rift over the next few months before I graduate this May.